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Spring 2017

Fall 2017

Vivian Young
High School Student

Art School Admissions Portfolio

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu
Art Prof & Partner

Artist Statement

I’m a junior in high school from California. My interests are primarily art and oil painting, design, and computer science. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, and I took basic art classes from second grade until fifth grade. However, I continued painting and drawing at home after discontinuing classes and I feel that the years I’ve spent doing art on my own have been the most instrumental in my skills as an artist now.

As a second semester junior, I’m beginning to complete my art portfolio for college but I feel that I’m lacking certain elements such as different styles, a concentration, etc. I would like feedback on how I can improve the works I currently have and especially on what more to include and how to diversify my portfolio if necessary.

Many of the works I have now are slightly outdated and I want to start painting more now, but I don’t know what type of works I should have. It would be very helpful if I could get an idea of the types of artworks to add to my portfolio that would best demonstrate my skills.

My short term goal as an artist is to have a completed art portfolio that showcases my best work. In the long term, I hope to pursue joint computer science and art programs in college and use my skills as an artist in my future career (i.e. app designer, user interface designer etc.)”

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Fall 2017

Spring 2017

Video transcript

“Immediately what I see in your portfolio is that every single piece has been so comprehensively finished. I feel that every artwork that I’m looking at in your portfolio really has been fully resolved. Every single area of your pieces has been totally addressed and considered, and that’s actually rare for an art school admissions portfolio to show that.

It’s quite often that I will see student portfolios where they’ll have pieces that look like they’re off to a really good start, but aren’t fully resolved. You really have pushed every single piece to its ultimate potential. I don’t feel when I look at any of your artworks that anything has been left behind, that anything is really lacking, and that’s such a wonderful thing.

I think it also shows very clearly that you are a very hard worker, you have an excellent work ethic, and that you really pay attention to fully resolving all of your pieces. An art school portfolio really needs to have diversity in terms of materials and also subject matter, and you definitely have that.

When I look at all the subjects that you’re doing, there’s a huge range. For example, you have some still life images, you have some portrait images, not only that, but you also have a bunch of images that seem like they’re suggesting some kind of a narrative.

You have some pieces that are little bit more surrealistic and so what I like about your work is that it doesn’t seem like you’re doing these academic studies of things. It seems like there is a lot of thinking and story behind a lot of your pieces, and I think that’s wonderful.

You really care about your subject matter, and you’re not just this machine that draws, so that’s fantastic and that’s another thing that I don’t see very often. I think often times when students are applying to art school, they get really really caught up in just the pure technical skill, and they don’t really think about what it is that they’re trying to talk about, if they’re trying to communicate an idea. That’s great that you’re really thinking about those things.

Art schools are really looking to see that you have an openness and willingness to really work in a wide range of different kinds of materials, and I definitely see that in your portfolio. You have a three-dimensional piece, you’ve got many paintings, you’ve got drawings, a wood burned piece, you got some mixed media pieces…that’s fantastic, not only that you’ve really taken the time to experiment with all those materials, but that you’re quite accomplished in a lot of those areas.

And so it really shows your versatility as an artist, that you’re not an artist who only knows how to draw in pencil but that that you can use charcoal, you can use all these other different kinds of supplies, that’s really fantastic that you’re showing that in your portfolio.

Your compositional skills in terms of how you’re laying out your subject matter on the page are quite good. You have a couple of pieces that I think could be improved where there are some areas that look a little bit blank, but I think for the most part you really are tackling the entire surface of the piece, and that’s great because what I see very often is people get so focused on the subject, and then they have this blank background, and the piece ends up looking really unfinished and empty.”

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3 responses on "Art School Portfolio Critique: Vivian Young"

  1. Wow! There’s such a startling improvement between these two portfolios, I almost can’t believe they’re by the same person! Your technique was impeccable from the get-go, but in the new pieces I see you pushing your approach in such an exciting way that really brings the work together. The original portfolio was already strong on a few levels, but is very much a high school art portfolio in terms of the subject matter, and the new one is so far above and beyond.

    As has already been stated, the color choices you are now making, in addition to the strong light sources used, really make this work stand out. I also enjoy the more abstract work, but would agree that this blend of realism / surrealism seems to be your strong suit. In the future I would definitely encourage you to play more with the kind of looser mark-making we see in the included landscape and city-scapes, but for the sake of a college portfolio it’s always better to keep the focus on your strongest pieces.

    I’d love to eventually see you integrate these two worlds, too! The screaming portrait with the big eyes shows a lot of potential, in that regard. Keep on pushing… But for now, I think you’re in an excellent place with this portfolio!

  2. Your technique and skill with your painting and drawing is definitely present, and not something you should worry about! I’m really impressed by your work, what you need to do at this point is to go in the direction of finding your own voice that feels right to you. As I look at your work, I see two sections: one of well-executed life drawing and painting, and the other that have a more conceptual leaning. For the latter, no two pieces are similar. They’re all well done but very different.
    Of course, difference in your own style is never a bad thing (and especially for a school application you don’t need to worry about having a “defined style” yet) but if you had one or two additional pieces in each style to kind of explore your own voice more, I think it would take you far. Finding opinion articles that you read and illustrating those could be a great way for you to add some more work, as well as flushing out some of your design work.
    What I found both in applying to art school and now applying for illustration jobs, people want a portfolio that is intentionally divided. Show not only what you’re good at and what you want to do, and don’t worry about work that is a one-off just to demonstrate your skill. You’re at a good place, and even more so because you seem to have no intention of relaxing. Keep it up, and try to flex the concepts in design with your pieces!

  3. I’m immediately so drawn to your use of light! Your dramatic lighting choices are creating a very distinct mood while also establishing the form of the figures really well!

    Color is also an area I see that you’re exploring and I would love to see you take more liberties with! I love how in the piece that is an extreme close up of half a face, you’re playing around with blues and greens around the mouth and chin area. This use of unusual colors makes me see this piece less of simply a portrait, but makes me wonder about the environment this person is in, is the color here a refection of their mood or commentary on something to do with their mouth/voice? How can color be a driving force in your works’ narratives and help push your concepts.

    This is a really exciting and skilled portfolio! I’m looking forward to seeing how you use your range of technical skills and use them as a way to further push the concepts behind your work!

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